Get Your Patron Saint for 2011 – UPDATED

Regular readers know that around this time each year I have been fortunate enough to have someone “pull a patron saint” – someone who will be a specific teacher and friend for the coming twelve months. My patron for 2010–you can see his picture in the sidebar–has been the great St. Philip Neri, of whom I knew nothing beyond the fact that he was famous for his sense of humor.

I did some research on him, bought a book and found that there was much more to this “Apostle of Rome” than his cheerfulness. Each day in my prayers, as I finished up my intercessions, I would always add, “St. Philip, teach me what you know.”

I am a poor student, but Philip and I became very fond friends, and I think he really did help me to learn quite a lot about taking God seriously, but not the self, and about surrender. I credit him with bringing about, somehow, the September trip to Rome that hadn’t even been on my radar, in June, and where we seemed to encounter churches and still-functioning hospitals established by this holy man, all over the place.

A particularly warm memory of Rome came on our first night, when we lumbered into Santa Maria in Vallicella, which is commonly known as Chiesa Nuova. Despite the beauty of our surroundings, I was focused entirely on getting to the side chapel wherein Neri’s incorruptible remains are entombed.

Chapel & Tomb of St. Philip Neri, Chiesa Nuova, Rome

Once there, surrounded by a few young men and pilgrims, I quietly wept in exhausted gratitude, thinking, “I am not sure how or why, but here I am!” A few minutes later, two vested Italian priests entered and mass began–an intimate, quiet mass–it was such a sweet gift!

This year, it has been difficult to find someone to “pull a patron” for me, and I was beginning to despair that this lovely tradition, which has been a true benefit to my spiritual life, might have to come to an end.

Thank God, then for Conversion Diary’s excellent Jennifer Fulwiler, who–aside from being a newly-expecting, homeschooling mom and a prolific writer–is also enough of a geek to develop (on her own) this nifty Patron Saint Generator.

Go check it out. I uttered a little prayer before hitting the button, and was delighted to find that my Patroness for 2011 (and my first female since I picked up this tradition) is St. Catherine of Siena!

“If you are what you should be, you will set the world on fire”
– St. Catherine of Siena

For the past few years I have felt alternately nagged at and cajoled by this great Dominican Tertiary and reformer–this humbly-born, Christ-haunted and God-educated, pope-and-monarch-instructing, unforgettable fire of a woman–who “[wielded] power, influence and wisdom to which Hillary Clinton can only aspire.”

Born in 1347, just one year before the plague would devastate Siena, Catherine’s was an era of stark extremes: the scholarly poet Petrarch beside the romantic Boccaccio, Tuscan beauty marred by violence, corruption, and the plague. The duality manifested itself in a church being wrestled over by two popes, and in Catherine herself: an uneducated woman of prolific letters; a pragmatist and profound mystic; a lunatic who communicates with lucidity; a woman too tidy to wear a hair shirt but indifferent to the steel chain wrapped around her torso and biting into her skin.

I look forward to humbly submitting myself to the tutelage of this wonder-inspiring Doctor of the Church, throughout 2011.

Catherine, at Basilica Santa Sabina, Rome

In a way, this feels almost like a continuation of my time with Neri, and in particular that very wonderful evening in Rome; hours before the mass in the Chapel of St. Philip Neri, my husband and I had visited the tomb of St. Catherine of Siena, which resides at the church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, mere blocks from Chiesa Nuova.

There I had asked St. Catherine to pray for my many Dominican friends, and for others who had asked for specific remembrances to her, and then I had said, “St. Catherine, teach me what you know…”

It is a brazen–even presumptuous–request to make, of course. But I figure myself to be very ignorant, so I need to be bold in seeking out good teachers who will remind me, again and again, that I am not in charge of anything but my own surrender.

The tradition of “patron pulling” is that one does not choose the saint; the saint chooses you for the year. This almost feels like the good Apostle of Rome has handed me off to the fascinating Catherine with a rueful shake of the head: “If I’ve overcoddled this hopeless creature, let’s bring in some tough love…”

It reminds me of that scene in Kill Bill, Vol. 2, where Bill hands his student Beatrix Kiddo off to the master, Pai Mei, warning her not to “throw any American sass” his way.

No sass. I will be good.

Do give Jennifer’s Patron Saint Generator a look-see. If you decide to take a patron, let us know which one chose you!

UPDATE: A great story!

Incredible Catherine of Siena
A Word from St. Catherine of Siena
St. Catherine and Manly Men
St. Catherine’s Sons and Daughters
St. Catherine and Me
Basilica Santa Sabina

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Fr. Allen

    St. Catherine is a powerful patroness; she will help see you very trying times in the Faith. Sometimes I wonder if a devotion to her does not bring about said challenges to the Faith, but.. she will definitely help you through!

  • Paul Pluth

    I received from the Saint Generator St. John of God who, among other matters, is patron saint of alcoholics and for fighting alcoholism. I am in the process of burying my best friend, who after a lifetime of alcohol addiction attained sobriety, but died from diabetes. St. John of God is a providential choice, and I entrust my friend to St. John’s intercessions before the throne of grace.

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  • Gregg the Obscure

    St. John Houghton (first of the 40 martyrs of England and Wales). Knew how to hold his tongue, which I ought to do better.

  • Scott B

    After a quick prayer, I was given St. Katharine Drexel. As a wealthy heiress who gave away her inheritence to found the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, she is the patroness of philanthropists. How perfect!

    The focus of my job changed recently. I now work primarily with wealthy donors and businesses to support a charitable project. Since this is a new area both for me and for the company, I have been struggling to figure out how to be successful.

    I could not have asked for a more appropriate patron saint, and I look forward to spending some quality time with St. Katharine in this coming year.

  • Anna

    I got St. Michael the Archangel, which is great because I am in sore need of a guardian/helper!

  • Kristen

    I prayed for a strong saint, one that would PUSH me hard to do that which I know I must and to be brave about it, and I was blessed with Saint Jan Sarkander. He is just what I prayed for.

  • Saint_Irenaeus

    I got St Ignatius Loyola. Appropriate, I think, because I’m an evangelical Protestant converting to Catholicism soon. Hmmm.

  • Kathleen

    I am delighted to report that I received St. Augustine of Hippo, my favorite saint ever (except for Mary of course). Besides his other wonderful attributes he is invoked for “sore eyes”. I have begun to be concerned about my eyesight so this may be a providential choice.

  • Cathy

    I was chosen by a saint a had not heard of before – Roque Gonzalez y de Santa-Cruz. Come to find out, he was killed on 11/15, which is my birthday! He has his work cut out with me, but I think we’ll be a good team!

  • Left Coast Conservative

    We celebrated Christmas dinner and, before dessert, pulled names from 3 bowls – a patron saint, a person present and a deceased member of our community. It was my idea so I was in charge of finding the names of the saints – a quick prayer and a perusal of the saint book – voila – the saint list. Everyone wrote the name of a deceased and then we had our own names in the third bowl. The deceased were as far back as the latter part of the 19th century – quite touching.
    So, my saint for the year is St. Pius X – I don’t know much about him but I’m taking the idea from you to ask him to teach me what he knows – to guide me during this year. My 8 year old daughter pulled Blessed Miguel Pro and St. John Vianney and my 17 year old son pulled St. Anastasia.
    Blessings to all -

  • Margaret

    St. Maria Goretti. Martyr saint. ‘Choked and stabbed to death defending against a rape attempt on 6 July 1902 at the age of 12.’

    Was disappointed with this choice of patron saint so took another spin at the wheel – St. Agnes of Rome. ‘At age 12 or 13 Agnes was ordered to sacrifice to pagan gods and lose her virginity by rape.’ She refused – was ‘beheaded and burned, or tortured and stabbed to death, or stabbed in the throat.’

    Both saints were martyred defending their purity/vitue. They chose martyrdom over sin. They placed the practice of virtue. serving the Lord, above their own lives.

    (A line out of my own daily prayer is – to receive the strength and guidance to live a life of virtue, to place God above all else. – Lofty ideals, I know. But perhaps an answer to my prayer is my Patron Saint for 2011.)

    Okay, I can take a hint. ; ) I honour my prayer prior to my first spin, to welcome and receive the guidance and teaching of the Patron Saint who ‘chooses me’.
    I surrender to the wisdom of the ‘child’ saint, St. Maria Goretti. I encountered her name and image many times this past year, and of course, characteristically turned away from the promptings of a ‘child’ saint.

    Was seeking a saint with more ‘gravitas’ but who can argue with the promptings of a Patron Saint who choose you! ; )

    I look forward to the spiritual journey and growth of the coming year with Maria Goretti at my side, or leading.

    [My own experience is that even if the saint who "chooses" you seems oddball, or "a mistake" you eventually end up discovering why you came together, and what you needed to learn. One year I had St. Gerard Majella, and thought, "boy, that's a mistake." It wasn't. Using the generator last night for other members of my family, all of the pulls seemed pretty appropriate, except Buster's Patron which ended up being St. Cosmas. It seems like an incongruous I can't wait to find out what happens! :-) -admin]

  • Fr Brian

    Thanks for the tip! I prayed and then hit the button. St. Benedicta of the Cross ( Edith Stein) chose me. We have her pictured in one of the stained glass windows at St.Patrick. I have Jewish ancestory on both sides of my family from Germany and Portugal! I am looking forward to what she wants to teach me. God bless, FrBrian

  • zmama

    I received Blessed Dorothy of Montau-whom I have never heard of but she was married and I am a big fan of married saints because I think there are not enough of them. She was married at 17 and bore 9 children but only one-a daughter-survived. I have had 3 miscarriages and we have one daughter whom we adopted. I think Blessed Dorothy will be a good friend for me as someone who can keep me from worrying too much about my only child. Dorothy was also devoted to the Blessed Sacrament and there is a lovely adoration chapel in a neighboring parish that I would like to spend more time at this coming year. Since I just found out today that the bakery where I work pt-time has to close its doors this Fri. I will now have more time to go to the chapel. Now I just need to find the patron saint of bakers for my wonderful employers who I have grown to think of as family this past year.

  • Maureen

    I got St. Barbatus (Bearded) of Benevento, who apparently fought some kind of Golden Fleece cult worship. He started out his career being so fiery a preacher that he got thrown out of town, and he died on Leap Day, a bishop.

    I have aaaaabsolutely no idea what this means, but I’m not minded to go for another pull! I mean, you don’t get anybody this oddball by chance! Maybe the Holy Spirit’s telling me something about the oddness of life….

    Re: St. Catherine of Siena, she’s not really as stern as all that. I mean, sure she gave what for to those who needed it, but every day she was there for people who needed love and care.

    Re: St. Cosmas, at least he gave people stuff for free! :)

  • Sue from Buffalo

    Re: St Catherine of Sienna. We named our youngest after her and she’s a strong minded little girl of four now. I pray that St Catherine prays for her namesake and that our little Catherine will live up to it.

    I got St Leo the Great. I cried when I saw it because his feast day is my parents’ anniversary. My Dad passed on last year and my Mom just passed on this past November…both within a couple weeks of their anniversary. They were married 64 years.

    Thanks for the idea of asking our saint to teach us. This is going to be fascinating. I hope I’m a good student.

  • Marie Therese

    I prayed and got St. Mary Magdalene and I’m pretty sure I know why I got her. I’m struggling with believing Jesus can forgive me and loves me. The Magdalene had both of those down pat and is patroness of converts and penitent sinners. She knew she was forgiven and deeply loved. I’m being surrounded by saints who trusted in the Mercy of Jesus and in His love: St. Therese (my patroness and Confirmation saint), Josefa Menendez (Way of Divine Love), St. Anthony of Padua, St. Theophane and St. Faustina. I welcome another saint to the “crew”, I need all the help I can get!

  • zmama

    OK-I just picked another saint to intercede for my employers who are about to lose their bakery. I was given Saint Conrad of Piacenza and this is part of what I read “Legend says that when the Bishop of Syracuse visited him, the bishop asked if Conrad had anything to offer his guests. Conrad said he would check in his cell. He returned carrying newly made cakes, which the bishop accepted as a miracle.” I have chills right now reading this.

  • Erica

    i was chosen by st. bernard of clairvaux. sweet.

    [My son Buster pulled St. Cosmas and thought that was oddball - what does a third century martyr & physician have to do with him, a snarky musician? The fact that he was called "the moneyless" assuaged him somewhat, but he still felt unsatisfied, so a few hours later, he tried the generator again. He got Damien.

    Cosmas' twin brother? Damien.

    So now he knows! And now he has two patrons! -admin]

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  • Frank La Rocca

    Well this is downright spooky. I was chosen by St. Jude Thaddeus, whose feast day is October 28 – which just happens to be my birthday (and this year will be my 60th!). He, along with St. Francis of Assisi, who is my baptismal saint, is one of the saints I know best from my childhood. This is because my mother always impressed upon me the story of Danny Thomas and the St. Jude hospital he built for children suffering from catastrophic illnesses (in response to a promise he made early in career to “build a shrine” to this patron saint of lost causes, to whom he prayed for help to pay hospital bill when he was penniless).

    I don’t know what my lost cause is – yet – but will pray about this in the coming year. Thank you, Anchoress!!

  • jeron

    “…i am not in charge of anything but my own surrender.” that’s good lectio. ok here goes nothing …. and 5 minutes later i’m still waiting. what does THAT mean? lol.

    [It may mean that you have to push the button twice? First you push to activate the search, then you push to end it! :-) It confused me a little at first, too! -admin]

  • Sharon Graham

    I wanted a woman ,so I skipped two male saints and then got her…St.Catherine of Bologna,the patron of artists and writers and writing is my bliss!
    I know she will lead me to write what the Lord wants said ,and will lead those who will be nourished by my words ,to my blog.

    She also was a Poor Clare and I have a fondness for them.So, thank you for posting this.I am excited about seeking her help in 2011.

  • Joseph

    After a quick prayer to the Holy Infant of Prague, I got St. Margaret of Hungary. Don’t know much about her yet, but I’ve always been interested in Hungary. I wonder why it took 672 years after her death before she was finally canonized.

  • MJ

    After saying a little prayer, I hit the button and St. Catherine of Sweden picked me. When her name came up, having never heard of her, I was tempted to pick another saint but hit the button to learn more about St. Catherine of Sweden. Was I surprised to see she is a daughter of St. Bridget of Sweden who is my one granddaughter’s Patron Saint. I am looking forward to learning more about her and seeing what she can teach me this coming year. Thank you, Anchoress!!

  • Sharon Graham

    St.Catherine of Bologna(con’t) .It seems that she was the subject of Pope Bendict’s teaching today!I printed it and it is very inspiring.

  • bertha

    I was chosen by St. Raymond of Fitero. I am really stumped with this one and struggling to find a connection of some sort between him and me. But I am going to stick with him (and hopefully him with me!) and see how this unfolds for the upcoming year.

  • jeron

    wow it’s a good thing i’m pretty lol. ok, i just followed your instructions and i received st. john of the cross. outstanding! thanks, anchoress :)

  • Rigel Dog

    I’ve never tried this before but I received St. Justin Martyr. A philosopher; one of the first Christian apologists. What little I was able to read in the first few minutes has already mentioned St. Justin as an example of someone whose logical, learned mind was not an impediment to faith.
    Yup, my logical, legally-trained mind’s chattering often tries to “tut-tut” away the possibility of the numinous.
    Oh, and one of my co-workers used to affectionately call me, “The Philosopher.”

  • lisa s

    I had hoped I would get St. Catherine or someone who had written a lot. I got St. Damian. The obvious connection is that he is patron of hernias and hernia patients. I had a hernia operation last year. (TMI – hernia was at the c-section incision.) He’s new to me so this will be fun getting to know him.

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  • Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

    Imagine – I got St. Frances of Rome!

  • sojourner

    After reading the Anchoress’s note about using the saint generator to get saints for family members, I requested one for my four-year-old daughter, our only child. The result: St Eugene de Mazenod, patron of “dysfunctional families”. (And that is the only patronage listed for him.)

    Duly humbled here.

  • Mutnodjmet

    St. Cosmas — who, among other things, is the patron saint of the chemical industry. As I am trying to build up my chemical safety/environmental health business, I think it is a good omen.

    Thanks for sharing this idea!

  • Sandra

    It was “weird” in the strange (supernatural) and unusual meaning of the word. Mine is St. Augustine of Hippo, who’s feast day is the day before my birthday. And whom I have read, and admire.

  • VoxClara

    Thank you for this blog entry. I liked your idea of a patron saint for the year so much that I, too, used the generator. I prayed a simple prayer that I would receive or rather be picked by a saint who would help me the most. I received St. Gianna Beretta Molla, patron saint of mothers, physicians and unborn children and also a modern day saint. In 1961, Gianna was once again expecting. During the second month, Gianna developed a fibroma on her uterus. Wanting to preserve her child’s life, she opted for the removal of the fibroma.
    After the operation, complications continued throughout her pregnancy. Gianna was quite clear about her wishes, expressing to her family, “This time it will be a difficult delivery, and they may have to save one or the other — I want them to save my baby.”
    On April 21, 1962, Good Friday of that year, Gianna went to the hospital, where her fourth child, Gianna Emanuela, was successfully delivered via Caesarean section. However, Gianna continued to have severe pain, and died of septic peritonitis 7 days after the birth. She was canonized in May 2004. I am a mother of a two year old and in this past year lost my preborn child. I am grateful for this woman’s guidance. I, too, hope I am a good student.

  • Melanie B

    I’m currently reading Louis de Wohl’s novel about St. Catherine of Siena, Lay Siege to Heaven. It’s been wonderful getting to know her better. What an amazing saint!

    Jennifer’s saint name generator pulled St Anthony of Padua out of the hat for me. It seems very timely as we’ve been debating about the name for our next child, due to be born in February. My husband has been leaning toward Anthony. And I’ve been on the fence. Though Anthony did occur to me early on as a suitable name, I waffled. I’ve never felt a strong pull to St. Anthony and I really wanted this baby’s name to have some greater significance. So if St Anthony has chosen to be my saint for the year… maybe I should gracefully submit and let my husband pick the name. It seems that St Anthony may have chosen both me and our unborn son.

    Oh and St Anthony really came through this week in helping us find my husband’s wallet when it fell out of my pocket into a snowbank in the backyard. Our four year old daughter was inspired to go dig for it and found it.

  • Sally Thomas

    Saint Joseph got me. My first thought: well, that’s boring. Where are all the obscure, interesting saints? Besides, I’m not expectant, house-hunting, or a carpenter or civil engineer.

    But he’s also the patron against doubt and hesitation, by which I am always plagued, as well as the patron for marriage — I could stand to be a better wife — and for a happy and holy death. Not that I’m especially dying right now, but we’re all headed in that direction, and I figure it behooves me to live towards the making of a good death, whenever that may occur.

    Saint Gerard Majella is my daughter’s confirmation saint. I’m not sure why he has such an attraction for her, but she loves him — and she does have kind of a quiet personal charism for praying for expectant mothers and babies, so it’s turned out to be a good partnership.

  • Annie

    Mine is St. Mark the Evangelist…I hope that means that I am going back to Venice!

    But remarkably, I have been gently trying to encourage my dad and dear sister back into the fold for several years…and it was them who I thought of immediately when I read that he is the patron saint of attorneys and notaries!

    Thank you Elizabeth!

  • mm

    St. George chose me, hmmm I hope he will find for me a knight in shining armour.
    (I was recently dumped by my longtime boyfriend of 4 years and whom I thought would be my future husband. Like you, this year my patron saint is St. Philip Neri, so far this year there has been no joy/cheers in my life that I can really remember, I am asking for his help everyday to find humor and joy in my life)

  • Mutnodjmet

    Melanie B: I ADORE St. Anthony, who I have tagged as by personal saint. One of the things I do is a lot of public speaking, and he had such a gift in that regard that when they recovered his body, the tongue was intact! My interviews and speeches always go better when I ask for his intersession.

    That, and the fact I am an absent-minded professor type, so the prayer for his help in locating lost things was the first Catholic prayer I learned. :)

  • shana

    St Lawrence of Brindisi; a Franciscan Capuchin (and I’m a Third Order Franciscan) and a Doctor of the Church who wrote, a friend just told me, quite a lot about the Virgin Mary. I must have a lot of learning to do this year!

    I am now almost afraid to ask “Teach me what you know”!

  • Regina

    Oh, I just love St. Catherine of Siena.I received my sacraments of initiation at St Catherine of Siena Church. Last year we went to Italy and visited Siena – it was sucha thrill to see her town.

    My saint is St Brigid of Ireland, patroness of babies, dairymen, children of unmarried parents, and Ireland. Her feast day is Feb 1.

    My grandparents, Irish immigrants, were married in St Brigid’s parish, and my grandfather died on Feb 1. A few of my Irish cousins are dairy farmers in County Cork.

    Thank you, dear Anchoress for suggesting this, and thank you, St Brigid, for choosing me.

  • Sr_Lisa

    Thanks, Elizabeth. I’ve been praying for a helper for the coming year, and I have found one (or, he found me) in St Albert the Great. I am quite a fan of his pupil, St Thomas Aquinas; so I am glad that I will make his acquaintance during the coming year!

  • Joan H.

    Sojourner, don’t be discouraged or dismayed. I, too, was chosen by St Eugene de Mazenod, a saint I had never heard of (not that I thought I knew them all, of course, but I am very fond of reading about saints). With some slight hesitation, I clicked on the button, and the word that leaped out at me was: family. Yes, yes, it also says “dysfunctional”, but isn’t every family dysfunctional in some way? We can’t all (or any) be the Holy Family, can we?

    For me, this was an amazing selection. I’m writing this from my brother’s home, where I’m visiting because my mother just got out of the hospital and is now convalescing. We don’t know if Mom will ever be strong enough to live on her own again. Our family has always been close but what is happening now is a redefinition of roles as Mom moves into this new stage of her life. Caring for her is simultaneously the easiest, most natural thing I have ever done and the most difficult. I think St. Eugene may have got more than he bargained for with me this year, as I suspect I will be asking for many intercessions!

    Thank you so much for posting about the Saint Generator.

  • Mrs. M

    I clicked on the show my my saint button 5 minutes ago and it’s still processing. Either somethings wrong or no one wants me. How long did it take everyone else to get a response?

    [You have to click the button twice. The first time sets the generator in motion. Second time gives you your saint. -admin]

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  • Jeff

    I really enjoyed the generator thing, a great idea. I got two very obscure older saints but they seemed appropriate in some ways. I suppose it doesn’t hurt to pick several (or be picked by several). As the Old Testament says, it is wise to have a “multitude of counselors.” I’ve been recently fascinated by St. Gemma Galgani and she is an instant cure for excessive preoccupation with worldly things.

  • Sal

    St. Martin de Porres and I are a team this year. I was delighted, as I have always loved this gentle Dominican lay brother, with his life of service. I have a sneaking suspicion I know why he chose me, but will wait to see.

    Now, off to offer up other family members for the ‘picking’.
    Thank you, Anchoress, and Jennifer, too!